Colorful Choices Challenge helps Emory employees embrace healthier eating

By Erin Long | Emory Report | April 28, 2016

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Lunchtime at Emory has been a bit more colorful lately thanks to the Colorful Choices Challenge, a new program of Healthy Emory. Over 1,700 employees of Emory University and Emory Healthcare have signed on to take the six-week nutrition challenge, striving to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

“This challenge is about healthy eating patterns that anyone can adopt,” says Dawn McMillian, wellness specialist and registered dietitian. “By increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables in their diets, challenge participants are receiving the best that produce has to offer — vitamins, minerals and fiber — all of which contribute to better health.”

Challenge participants use a smartphone app or their computer to easily track their progress, find healthy recipes, form teams and connect with "produce pals." 

“We wanted to encourage people to eat healthy in a simple, yet fun and engaging way,” says Michael Staufacker, director of health management. “It has really been exciting to see how Emory community employees are embracing this challenge, encouraging and supporting each other, and sharing recipes.”

Emory employees have formed 72 different teams, with creative names like Candler Carrots, Veggie Tales, Winship Watermelons, and Mean Greens. Currently, the top five teams are:

1. ESJH Administration

2. Jackpot Communications

3. Great Grub Club

4. Interlibrary Loan & Reserves

5. Living Life-By-Colorful Choices

“The Challenge has been a terrific way for our team, the Great Grub Club, to encourage each other in improving our diets,” explains Carol Kelly, assistant director of nutrition services with Student Health Services. “Our team has had a lot of fun with the challenge, including our ‘plant pot lucks,’ and our administration has provided support so we could include everyone at Student Health, even those not on our team, in having a weekly surprise fruit. Overall, it's been a fun and fruitful endeavor!”

Colin Bragg, a reserves coordinator at the Woodruff Library, adds, “The Colorful Choices Challenge has been a great way for my wife, Amy Parker, and me to be more consistent and creative with our fruits and vegetables. She is on the Jackpot Communications team, so we have been happy to see that our food choices together are having such an impact on the results!

"We follow a plant-based diet, so we were eating a lot of produce already, but now we are compelled to grab as many Top Choice points as we can," Bragg says. "We've found that our diet has generated interest at work, resulting in recipes shared and good questions about veganism. For us, the challenge is not only about healthy food for ourselves, but also making choices benefiting the animals and the environment.”

Prizes for participants

Challenge participants who met the goal of logging at least 100 produce points at the end of week 3 were entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $25 gift card.  View the week 3 winners. Another prize drawing will take place at the end of week 6. Additionally, a weekly winner is drawn from all registered participants to receive a fruit basket. Congratulations to fruit basket winners so far: Veena Amin, Emory Healthcare; Armin Siedlecki, Candler School of Theology; and Earnestine Kelly, Emory Healthcare.

“One of the reasons for offering the Colorful Choices Challenge is to encourage our Emory colleagues to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day and have some fun doing it,” Staufacker says. “The hope is once the challenge is over, the healthy eating and the great workplace comradery will continue.”

The Colorful Choices Challenge kicked off on April 4 and continues through May 15.